Time is running out for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of countries and if they have to address the problem of slums the time to act is now, a meeting at the Fifth Session of the World Urban Forum heard in Rio de Janeiro heard.
“With 78% of its urban populations living in slums, the time for action is now” observed Sir John Kaputin, former Secretary General of the ACP group of states during the stimulating debate on the challenges posed by slum upgrading and prevention- a programme undertaken in collaboration with the European Union and the Africa Caribbean and Pacific(ACP) countries.
On his part, Mr. Alioune Badiane, the Director of the Regional Office for Africa and Arab States of UN-HABITAT said land allocation systems must be streamlined.
“As long as politicians continue to corruptly allocate land in our cities, we will never manage to develop our countries,” he said.
Participants at the discussion called for bottom-up and top-down collaboration between neighbourhoods and their governments. “Communities need to be involved of course but our leaders must lead” observed one participant. Echoing these concerns, Mr Clifford Everald Warmingron President of the UN-HABITAT governing council and minister of state for water and housing of Jamaica said: We need to plant a tree today so that the next generation can benefit from its shade.”
He added that key stakeholders including the private sector had to be involved. The participants called on governments to recognise that the poorest of the poor are most often found in urban areas.
When there were calls from the floor for donors to respond with additional funding in support of urban development and shelter upgrading Mr. Antonio Garcia Fragio from the European Commission was quick to respond: “we always follow the countries priorities- it is up to you to convince your national authorities to put urban issues high on their agenda.”
Francisco Livramento from Cape Verde thanked UN-HABITAT for its innovative approach to slum upgrading saying his country had now decided to use the Urban Profile methodology as a means of national, regional and local planning financed by their own resources across 22 municipalities.